Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Branding Lessons:Connect Brand Personality to School Achievent

Every school mission statement is earnest, serious, layered, full of parallel structure and commas in series-- and without a personality! Without a USP! In this case, USP..UNIQUE SCHOOL PERSONALITY!

Isn't that what achieving success is about? The most successful people among us show how unique they are and deliver on that promise. Look at any winner . Look across the spectrum of the human experience from entertainers, to politicians,to intellectuals; and, what do you see? You see a unique personality, one that has achieved, and one that is completely connected to the market. So why shouldn't brand personality be something that can link to conversations about school achievement? Discussions on Brand Personality and how it connects to the community audience are valuable. The personality of the brand should reflect the larger community as well, and can help to "rally the troops" around whatever the USP of a school or district brand is believed to be. The Brand Personality can concisely project the a clear vision and connection to just what the school community stands for each day. And because there might be occasional disconnects between what the community wants: a winning football team, highest test score in the state, admission to Ivy League for all graduates to name a few, A clear brand personality can be easily maintained to offset those challenges. So, beyond the jargon of the mission statement...MADmen principals need to ask themselves, what does our brand personality show about us? Do we need a brand personality facelift?

Here's one mission statement picked at random from the internet:

The mission of_________ Elementary is to provide opportunities for students to achieve their personal best, become responsible and productive citizens, and embrace lifelong learning in a safe and positive environment. OK. This part is valiant and full of nobility. It's on the website...no one ever reads this stuff, really. And then it continues....

At school, we believe:

· All children can learn.

· All children benefit from developmentally appropriate materials, practices, and strategies.

· All children deserve a quality education in which individual needs are met, exceeded, and supported.

· Social skills, such as Life skills, deserve the same attention as academic ones.

· School is not just about children: it encompasses families, parents, community, stakeholders, society, the environment and the world.

· Children must be encouraged to see the connections between new learning and prior knowledge.

· Children are more than test scores.

· Children learn best in a safe, caring environment, one that values diversity, collaboration, and risk-taking.

· Children thrive when expectations are high and self-esteem higher.

· Direct instruction of students helps to increase student achievement.

Wonderful thinking....but how do we easily rally around all that...? There's so much of it. And who wouldn't agree that all schools want great test scores and safe kids. No mission statement would say we settle for middle of the road! And let's throw in some cognitive" stuff "about connecting new learning and prior knowledge ( somebody just came back from a workshop, I'll bet!). Again...who reads this stuff? It fills up websites.

Really, when choosing a brand, turn conversations to INSPIRING your target audience... your community, not overwhelming them with education-ese. If you think about brand personality, you might find yourself connecting to the leader of the school and the district. A strong leader's personality can enrich and be a model for the intangible personality of the brand... and that's great! If a MADman principal has a strong enough agenda, vision and personal brand, the school can benefit from living it...Think of Apple. The brand personality of Apple is really Steven Job's ...and it hasn't hurt that organization one bit. And who cares about the Apple mission statement when they are have achieved such quality and are sharing their unique brand personality with millions.

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